Marketers today aren’t just facing economic headwinds, tighter budgets, and disappearing cookies. They’re facing a radically different customer. Behaviors are changing and every company is rethinking how they engage with their customers as they fight for attention with increasingly limited dollars.
Salesforce is among those reimagining how they connect with customers. In 2021, the company launched its own streaming service, Salesforce+, to deliver live experiences and on-demand original content that reaches millions of customers and prospects around the world.
Cut to a little more than a year later, and Salesforce+ is helping the company understand the needs of its customers; tell unique and interesting stories; and deliver advertising in ways that are pushing the boundaries of traditional marketing and content. In its first ‘season,’ Salesforce+ has become a trusted business media channel that showcases the company’s products, values, and Trailblazer community to a global audience. It has connected with viewers through livestreamed major events and more than a dozen original video series.
Salesforce+: The inaugural year
Taking inspiration from the biggest players in the consumer streaming world rather than traditional B2B marketing, Salesforce+ kicked off its inaugural year by broadcasting live events like Dreamforce, creating 15 original series, and producing hundreds of short-form videos for viewers to dive into.
And dive in they did.
“We’re thrilled with the response to Salesforce+,” says Colin Fleming, Salesforce’s EVP of Global Brand Marketing. “The viewing numbers have been fantastic, and my favorite part is it’s really helped us change the way we think about marketing and connecting with our customers within Salesforce. The types of content we’re producing, the way we’re developing the platform, the way the user experience works – it’s all taken from the consumer world and we’re putting a B2B lens on it.”
What Salesforce+ taught marketers about marketing
When it comes to marketing – or any B2B content, really – Fleming says that the key to a good product is this: “There’s a lot of Bs in B2B, but none of them should stand for boring.”
For anyone who’s watched Salesforce+ content, whether the Ecopreneurs series, The Pivot podcast with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway, or even the meta Salesforce on Salesforce, it’s apparent that it’s not boring B2B videos that quickly lose viewer attention. Salesforce+ content is intended to educate, entertain, and inspire, leaving viewers with ideas and perspectives to take back to their jobs and lives.
Tapping platform data to inform future strategy
Creating compelling, engaging content on an easily browsed platform is table stakes in the streaming world. Just like consumer services like Netflix and Salesforce’s own customers lean on data to personalize content and optimize campaigns, Salesforce+ leans on analytics and audience behavior metrics to understand what’s working, what can be tweaked, and inform programming decisions.
Fleming says he and his team have certainly learned a few things, especially from the pandemic. Excluding the big event livestreams, viewers tended to engage more with short-form content, for example, so the team rejiggered the length of videos to make them more consumable.
Another unexpected takeaway: viewers bounced around types of content — such as live events, podcasts, and original series. And, they changed subject matter often — like business trends, customer success stories, thought leadership, programs on equality, sustainability, and other relevant topics.
“It’s amazing to learn that people watch an inspirational session around ecopreneurs, and then five minutes later, they’re watching how-to videos,” Fleming says. “There’s an equal appetite for thought leadership as there is for practical, utility-based programming that helps customers get more out of products.”
Similarly, the data shows that many people start their session on the Salesforce+ home page to view an event, but then they stay to watch other programming. “This shows our content is sticky, and makes folks want to go deeper, want to understand the big picture and find new ways to not only help their businesses through today’s challenges, but also create some good in the world,” Fleming says.
An intersection of tech, culture, and community
Fleming says the variety of subjects and themes within Salesforce+ content has a parallel to Dreamforce itself.
Much like how Dreamforce is an intersection of technology, culture, and community, Salesforce+ is very similar, and always on.Colin Fleming, EVP of Global Brand Marketing, Salesforce
One example is an episode of The Shift, the new docuseries from Salesforce Studios and CNBC that features Formula 1 Racing. The series documents the digital transformation journeys of Salesforce customers. In the case of F1, the episode shows how data enables them to transform their approach to fan engagement, creating more opportunities to deepen loyalty and build their audience. In addition, F1 is working with Salesforce to accelerate its mission to reach net zero emissions by 2030.
“Nobody is immune to this environmental challenge; we’re all in this together. F1 has really stepped up to reduce its carbon footprint,” Fleming said. “It’s a very authentic net zero sustainability story. They’re using technology like Salesforce Net Zero Cloud and are rethinking their decision-making processes. It’s a great story to tell widely, because if anyone thinks sustainability is out of reach for them, take a look at the gas guzzling F1.”
Salesforce+ looks to 2023 and beyond
As another calendar year approaches, Fleming and his team have a year’s worth of insights to help them map out the next chapter of Salesforce+. Beyond the behaviors and insights, there’s also external and macro real world factors to take into account as they plan.
“Every company is thinking through a couple things,” he says. “Cookies are going away, so we have to think about a first-party data strategy. That’s going to be a huge part of our journey.”
“The second is community development,” Fleming says. “We all have to be thinking about how we build a community around whatever we’re offering. Every marketer needs to be thinking about that.”
What comes next on Salesforce+ will continue to address these issues and develop programming with both trends and real customer insights at the core. And you can bet that the series, live events, podcasts, and other programming will be anything but boring.